Thursday, October 9, 2008

A day in Agra

The Sun is rising over the Yamuna River with its first rays caressing the tops of the tall temples in Vrindavan. Bells and gongs are ringing from all directions almost drowning out the singing of the Holy names as the faithful continue their worship.

We wait for a taxi to pick us up for our trip to Agra about 2 hours south of here. A cow walks past bowing her head for an instant as if to say good morning or more likely “Radhey Shyam” as the locals say here.

The taxi arrives and we jump in the driver confirms we are going the Agra and off we go complete with Hindi music blaring… but wait, we stop not far up the road and change drivers and when the first driver (the boss) ask me questions I pretend that I can’t hear him so the music is turned off and all is peaceful again with the bells and singing coming from all around. The traffic is light and the driver is quite and the sights and sounds fill us with lots to contemplate.

Arriving in Agra we stop for a light breakfast at an international hotel where westerners gather and eat. Then we head straight for the Taj Mahal. In the parking lot we meet a tour guide who we take with us for the day.

On arriving at the gate we are told it Taj is closed because some Head of State is taking a tour and that it will reopen at 1pm. So we head off for the Red Fort… this one is much larger than the one in Delhi, built of Red Sandstone and White Marble over the time span of 4 Mughal rulers. It is huge and was surrounded by two moats said to contain fierce Crocodiles and Tortoise to dissuade enemies.
There is so much to see and take in from the architecture, history and culture. I am most interested in the reign of Shahjahan (the builder of the Taj) his is the most interesting story. He was known as a good just ruler catering for all his subjects whether they be Muslim, Hindu Sikh or Christian. He had three wives, the first two being arranged marriages and the last to Mumtaz Mahal was a marriage of love. This love was so strong that after she died during the birth of their 14 child he built the Taj Mahal in honor of her.

Shahjahan was overthrown by his son Auranzeb and kept under house arrest in theses rooms looking out on his beloved Mumtaz tomb the Taj Mahal until his death.

After the tour we are off to the Taj and a fest for the senses.
Both the fort and the Taj are breathtaking in their size, design an d Royal grandeur. I can truly say the images do not and cannot do justice to these places.

It is said that discovering the secrets of the Taj is like discovering the different moods of a woman… enough said! I told you pictures couldn’t do it Justice.

Jaya Radhey! Until next time.

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